The Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri is ready and waiting for the stacked Strikeforce soiree to commence this Saturday.
The main event may pit Robbie Lawler against Jake Shields, however, arguably the biggest star that will walk into the arena on June 6 is former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski.
“The Pitbull” is coming off a devastating and disappointing loss to WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko at the Affliction: “Day of Reckoning” event that was held earlier this year in January 2009.
As a result, he now sits at 15–6 in his professional MMA career and will attempt to get win number sweet sixteen when he squares off with undefeated up-and-comer Brett Rogers. Arlovski would like nothing more than to defeat “The Grim” and get back to his winning ways.
With the event now just one day away, he graciously took some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions regarding Emelianenko, his desire to pursue professional boxing, Brett Rogers, and more.
Check it out:
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): You’re coming off a loss against Fedor Emelianenko at the last Affliction event. Were you feeling confident that you were executing your game plan up to the point where Fedor caught you and what did you learn from the fight as a result?
Andrei Arlovski: I didn’t fight to my game plan. It’s that simple. All my trainers were right about it. I have to be more disciplined. After this I was meeting with all my trainers and we found out what was working for me and I have to follow next time my game plan. I have to trust my trainers 100 percent.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): After the fight your boxing coach Freddie Roach said that Fedor simply “got lucky” with his punch. Do you feel the same way?
Andrei Arlovski: For me that doesn’t make sense now whether he was lucky or not. He caught me. He knocked me out. This is fact. He got the best of me. Of course I still hurt after this. I am going to chase him everywhere and hope I can one day face him again. Next time I’ll be much smarter than I was before.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Of course, you’re a former UFC champion and the aforementioned Fedor has always been a guy that fans have wanted to see come to the UFC. Do you expect Fedor to ever join the UFC?
Andrei Arlovski: I don’t know. It would be up to his management team. I don’t know if he wants to fight in the UFC or not. I don’t know.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Who do you expect to win between Fedor and Josh Barnett in August?
Andrei Arlovski: I think that Fedor is going to beat Josh Barnett. It’s not disrespect to Josh Barnett but for me I think Fedor is going to keep winning all his fights and I am going to face him again.
(Phone briefly cuts out)
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Hello again, sorry about that.
Andrei Arlovski: Yes, I am sorry. It is a bad connection because I am in the trunk. I am driving to workout with all my trainers and I am in the trunk, you know? (laughs)
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Okay (laughs). Well hopefully you have enough oxygen in there to finish the interview! Back to business. Now everyone knows you’re one of the biggest stars on the Affliction roster. How come you decided to fight at the Strikeforce event and not the Affliction event on August 1?
Andrei Arlovski: Both Affliction and Strikeforce gave me the option to fight on Showtime for Strikeforce and I took the fight. Why not?
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): If you are fortunate enough to come away with a victory over Brett Rogers will it be your intention to pursue the Strikeforce heavyweight belt that currently belongs to Alistair Overeem?
Andrei Arlovski: I don’t know much. I will talk to the organization and see what is the toughest fight.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Will your next fight be under the Strikeforce banner or Affliction?
Andrei Arlovski: I am sorry. I can’t give you much about my contract. I can give you more information after this fight. It is up to Strikeforce and my manager so they have to find out.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Do you still intend to pursue your pro boxing career as well?
Andrei Arlovski: Yes, after June 6 I will have a match on June 27 at the Staples Center.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): If you had to make a choice would you rather be an MMA world champion again or a boxing world champion?
Andrei Arlovski: Both. That is one reason why I started to throw myself into boxing. You never know if you are going to sit on the couch what you can be. If I can be heavyweight champion of boxing I have to try. That is why I want to train myself in professional boxing.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Going back to Brett Rogers. He has never faced a fighter of your caliber. Do you feel like he is ready to take that leap up in competition and what have you learned about him in your preparations?
Andrei Arlovski: I know he’s a tough fighter. He’s 9–0. He’s dangerous. He’s bigger and heavier than me. We got a game plan with all my trainers. It’s actually a great fight for me. I wanted a big fight and Strikeforce gave me a great opportunity for me to fight and fight a tough fighter like Rogers. I am really excited to fight him on June 6.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): You mentioned the weight difference, which is roughly 25 pounds. Do you anticipate that being a factor in the fight?
Andrei Arlovski: You know I am not going to be 237 like I was in January. I put on some weight and I am a little stronger than I was before. I don’t know we’ll see. He’s a good striker and likes to box and we’ll see what happens.
Also, I train a lot in wrestling and jiu-jitsu. If he wants to standup we’ll stand up. If I think I can take him down I’ll take him down. If I have to do a leg lock or choke him of course that’s something I’ll do. If I feel like the opportunity for my hands then I’ll take him out. It just depends on what kind of fight it will be.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): What do you expect to weigh in at on Friday?
Andrei Arlovski: I expect it will be about 245.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): What is your official prediction for the fight?
Andrei Arlovski: I don’t want to be in this position. I just train hard and I’m ready to go. I know Rogers said he was going to knock me out but I don’t want to joke with him. I don’t want to talk about it. I just want to step in the cage and do my job. I want to do all my talking in the cage.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): That’s all I had for you Andrei. Is there anything you would like to say to your fans out there or any sponsors you would like to thank before we go?
Andrei Arlovski: Yes, thank you so much to all my fans for the support. Of course thank you to my sponsors. Thank you Affliction and Strikeforce. My dentist who makes a great mouthpiece for me. Looking forward. Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Alright, thanks for the time. Best of luck on Saturday.
Andrei Arlovski: Thanks. Also, you can check out more information at AndreiArlovski.com. Okay, thank you.
Derek Bolender is staff writer for InsideFights.com. He has also been feature on CBSSports.com, FoxSports.com, MMAmania.com, etc... You can also follow him at Twitter.com/DerekMMAWriter and on Facebook. Look for future articles from him on BleacherReport.com.